For so many of us who grew up in the Islamic Republic of Iran in the 1980s, David Bowie was an inspiration and a refuge from a claustrophobic environment. At a time when you could be lashed or go to jail for owning an audio cassette of western music, we would search all over Tehran for a Bowie album. We listened to anything we could find, from Space Oddity to Young Americans, over and over again. We watched The Man Who Fell to Earth a dozen times without understanding the plot or dialogue. We begged our friends and relatives in the West to send us his latest albums and the most recent books about him.
I will never forget the sadistic school principal who confiscated my David Bowie book, insulting and slapping me around for bringing a book about a cross dresser who kissed other men to school. "Do you want to be a faggot like him!? Don't you know we kill the fags in Iran?" he said as he tore the book into pieces, throwing the shreds in my face. "Should I send you to the Revolutionary Guards and tell them you're a fag!? Do you want to know what they will do to you!?"
I was trembling with fear. It was 1983 ...
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